Tis the Season for Scammers

I deplore scammers–all of them! The most despicable are those who prey on the elderly and those in search of a puppy. Fifteen years ago or so I wandered into the abyss of puppy scams.

My then husband thought it would be cool to own an Olde English bulldog, like Frank Cannon had. Since he was very difficult to gift, I went in search. Damn, the breed was pricey. Two grand and up. Until I found an ad in the Phoenix newspaper: Olde English bulldog puppy free to a good home. Hooray! Not. That one ad led me on a six-month journey across every major newspaper classified ad in America. Thankfully, my masses of evidence convinced a long-time journalist friend exposed the scam, a front page article, and eventually a bold face warning sidebar on puppy ads.

Whew! My work was done…until this week when the 21-year-old son, J, of friends wanted my help. His family was struggling with the sudden loss of their beloved father/grandfather. Joy and happiness became tears and misery. “Sue, my family needs to celebrate. I’ve decided on a golden retriever puppy. Will you help me?”

Since I would do anything I could to help, our adventure began into the dark world of scammers. (Unlike, my old experience, these scammers aren’t from Ghana but seemingly alive in Arizona.) However, these scammers have upped their game. Send a Zelle account $350 deposit and we will deliver the pup to you. Why? We want to make sure she’s going to a good home. Red Flag.

I found another classified ad which listed three, local phone numbers. I sent it to J. He called, the pups were in Tucson–not a bad drive, nor a bad price. He sent a text: can I come and see them? Of course, a swift reply came from a similar number; we will gladly show them to you upon receipt of your $500 deposit. Red Flag.

I called J, “I’ve never paid a cent to go look at a puppy. Lord knows, I’ve bought numerous dogs.” Yet, this above scammer sent him another text message a day later with the same we will gladly…from a Massachusetts area code.

I knew J was discouraged, but I didn’t quit. Saturday I found another ad and prodded him to call. Viola! Totally legit!

“I don’t have to give them a deposit!” Duh? “Will you come with me?” Not my circus. Admittedly, I was anxious all day. When will J contact me? Moments ago I received:

Please welcome Miss Marley. May she bring years of joy to J’s family.

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